|High School Football:
Lenape's Comeback Win Stuns The Minutemen
Friday, September 22, 2000
By Greg Alvord
SJSports Staff Writer
Excitement! You could not have gotten more excitement if you bit into a Slim Jim. The Lenape Indians and Washington Township Minutemen waged a classic battle that will go down as one of the highlights, if not "the" highlight, of the 2000 football season. The fourth ranked Indians showed more resolve than our boys from Omaha Beach and gutted out an impressive victory over the number one ranked Washington Township by a 26-25 score.
This contest of amazing plays began with the Minutemen taking the opening kickoff and methodically marching down field 70-yards for the score. Washington Township used their running game to march to the 1-yard line where quarterback Kevin Williams optioned in for the score on a fourth and one. The extra point was no good and this first of three missed point afters would come back to haunt the Minutemen. The two teams traded punts as they battled for field position.
Lenape was forced to punt again and this is where returner Jeff Brown worked some magic. Following the picture perfect picket fence blocking, Brown raced 45-yards up the middle for a dazzling score to give Township a 12-0 lead. The two point conversion was again no good. As the Minutemen fans were going wild, Lenape could have easily hid for cover but instead the offense came out like a team possessed. Needing a score to stop Township's momentum, the Indians marched down to the 9-yard line where they faced a fourth and goal. Lenape's brain trust of Bucky Mitchell and offensive coordinator Greg Harvey decided to nix a field goal attempt and try for the touchdown. This was where quarterback Dennis Morrone put on the moves that would have made Sugar Ray proud. Morrone jaw-dropped the crowd with a sensational, back and forth, crossing the field scramble that hasn't been seen since Burt Reynolds of the 'Mean Machine' scramble from the movie "The Longest Yard".
Washington Township took over determined to get the momentum back and marched down field to the Lenape 8-yard line. Williams worked some of his own magic as he scrambled in Michael Vick-like fashion to put the Minutemen ahead by a score of 18-7. You guessed it, the point after attempt was no good and this was how the first half ended. The second half saw Township looking to put a dagger in the heart of the Indians. Lenape went three and out and punted the ball. Township took over at the 20-yard line and began marching downfield. Following some positive yardage, Williams connected with tight end Vince Carey on a beautiful crossing play for a 40-yard touchdown and a seemingly insurmountable 25-7 lead.
Victory now looked dimmer than surviving a trip on the Andrea Gail for the Indians. Given about as much chance of coming back and winning as our heroes of the 1980 Olympic Hockey Team were, the Indians began to show what true football pride was all about. After another third and out for the offense, Township marched to the 8-yard line where they were faced with a fourth down play. Another score would have sent this contest to the cleaners, but the Lenape defense would have "no more". A huge stop by linebacker Romier Kennedy gave Lenape the ball back at their own eight. The Indians began marching down field and from the 50-yard line, running back Lamarr Watkins brought his Pele'-like athleticism to the gridiron and amazed the crowd with a beautiful hook & ladder play that made the Dolphins famous versus the Chargers in the 1981 AFC championship game. Watkins burned down the left sideline in nitro fashion as he jetted past four defenders for the touchdown and brought the score to 25-13. The Lenape defense, who earlier could not stop the powerful Minutemen offense, came out inspired. Defensive coordinator Ron Davidson's fine adjustments and carefully phrased words of encouragement sparked the defense. A three and out, lead by the fierce play of cornerback Dan Rella, forced Township to punt. The Indians took control on their own 4-yard line as the quarter ended.
A fourth quarter that will go down in the annuls of Lenape history began with the Indians marching out to the 30-yard line. This is where the multi-talented, Deion Sanderish, Watkins once again worked his stuff. Working out of the backfield, Watkins streaked thru the middle where he caught a beauty of a pass from Morrone and made his way to the sideline. This is where receiving mate C.J. Bacote sprung Watkins with a crushing block to give "The Flash" enough room to make the corner. "The Flash" then turned on his jets once again, sprung two would-be tacklers and raced in for a dynamic score to pull Lenape ahead with a 25-20 score. The Minutemen tried to execute, but felt the breath of the inspired Lenape "D" breathing down their necks.
The two teams traded possessions as the clock began to slowly tick down. The next time Township touched the ball, the fundamentally sound Indians' defense held once again and forced a punt. The Indians received the ball when the "Flash" Watkins insanely fielded the punt on the 6-yard line. When you have the football skills of this ball player, one man's thinking of insanity is another man's thinking of genius. Watkins avoided two defenders and was one man away from breaking it as he was tackled at the 36-yard line. This is when the drive that will be forever remembered at Lenape happened, with 1:20 left in the game. Facing a game ending 4th and 10 from the 50-yard line, Morrone dropped back to pass. A gorge of ill-tempered defenders rushed in on the quarterback and the skating-line Morrone magically avoided the lot of them and heroically scampered 25-yards for the first down with forty-eight ticks left on the game clock. A couple of plays and a few more seconds went by and the play of the game was set. A fourth and goal from the 11-yard line faced the Indians with twenty-eight seconds remaining in the game. A play was formulated by Coach Mitchell that would have made Vince Lombardi proud. Morrone dropped back to pass, once again a heavy rush met his eyes. Just before he was hit, Morrone shot a Kurt Warner-like "BB" to a slanting Marquice Morton who hauled in the pass for the touchdown to complete this mind boggling comeback. The Lenape fans went nuts as the Minutemen sideline sat more stunned than Deadheads during a Space Jam of a Grateful Dead concert. This contest was a true treat for the 8,000 plus fans who witnessed this great game.
Photos by Forrest Robleto